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Aston University & Students' Union case study: PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course

Case Study

March 19, 2024

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Embedding ESD in institutional PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Related Responsible Futures Criteria: PPL003, POC001, POC006

Overview of initiative/action

The key features of the initiative were:

  • Aston University requires staff, new to teaching in Higher Education to take an AdvanceHE accredited programme titled “PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education” which is mapped to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UK-PSF)and allows staff to achieve a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy upon successful completion.
  • This is a cross University course with staff from all three colleges and sometimes professional services taking part in the course. From September 2022, staff in the Sustainable Development in Teaching Working Group realised that embedding Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)would be an excellent way of ensuring that educators at Aston University are equipped with knowledge and skills necessary to promote, integrate, and contextualise sustainability and UN-SDGs in their respective field along with the appropriate ESD Pedagogy in line with the AdvanceHE and QAA’s guidance document on ESD in HE.
  • Therefore, the Working Group brought together a cross University team of staff from all three colleges to contribute to this specific aspect of the PGCert curriculum with specific examples of best practice in embedding ESD in curriculum design, delivery, and assessment from the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, College of Business and Social Sciences, and the College of Health and Life Sciences.

Impact of initiative

To date, this session has been delivered to three cohorts of PGCert participants (around 80 educators to date) from all three colleges of our university. The discussions in the session have led to educators realising the role that they can play to integrate and embed SDGs and ESD pedagogies in their curriculum and also have led to create cross University discussions around potential collaboration for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to ESD at Aston University.

Role that RF criteria/programme has played in this initiative

Responsible Futures Criteria PPL003,POC001, and POC006 were instrumental thinking about launching this initiative and allowed the Partnership to drive change and modernisation in the PGCert Curriculum.

  • PPL003 - Within the current academic year, the [Partnership] has proactively and meaningfully engaged key stakeholder groups in the [issues related to Responsible Futures]
  • POC001 - The institution has provided professional development and dedicated support for relevant personnel on the [issues related to Responsible Futures].
  • POC006 - The [Partnership] has made effective use of the relevant quality framework and/or outcome agreements to progress the [issues related to Responsible Futures].

Additional comments

This work has been led by Dr Goudarz Poursharif, Associate PVC Education and Reader in Sustainable Engineering at Aston University and colleagues in Aston University Sustainable Development in Teaching Working Group, namely Dr Panos Doss, and Dr Steve Russell.

The prevalence of learning about ESD and decolonising within the PGCert curriculum for staff is a positive, as this will enable staff to begin embedding those learnings into their teaching.

Feedback from the Aston University 2023 RF Audit Report

The Advance HE/QAA ESD framework pedagogy is used effectively within PGCert training to progress issues relating to Responsible Futures. All academic staff are expected to gain fellowship status with Advance HE, thus ensuring the framework is effectively implemented across the institution. Members of the PGCert are trained on ESD and supported to consider how this can be applied to their own disciplines.

Feedback from the Aston University 2023 RF Audit Report